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Notre Dame 99-to-2: No. 75 Josh Lugg, offensive lineman

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Listed Measurements: 6-foot-6 7/8, 308 pounds
2018-19 year, eligibility: Sophomore with four seasons of eligibility remaining, including 2018.
Depth chart: On the two-deep, Lugg fills in as the backup to starting left tackle junior Liam Eichenberg.
Recruiting: A consensus four-star recruit, Lugg’s dedicated commitment helped hold the Notre Dame class of 2017 together amidst coaching staff turnover. The U.S. Army All-American was rated the No. 22 tackle prospect in the country and the No. 6 player in Pennsylvania by rivals.com, as well as the No. 236 overall recruit nationwide.

CAREER TO DATE
Lugg saw no action his freshman season, preserving a season of eligibility.

QUOTE(S)
Lugg was mentioned too often this spring to merely end up a forgotten backup, even if the starting five offensive linemen never falter. Irish head coach Brian Kelly specifically mentioned Lugg’s progress twice this spring, including once responding to an open-ended question not inherently pertaining to the offensive line.

“Guys that were redshirted last year [or] didn’t play a lot, I’d say Josh Lugg probably is the one that kind of stands out that he’s really ready to play,” Kelly said in late March. “He clearly has shown that.”

A week later, Kelly added, “Josh Lugg has been impressive. It’s hard to keep him off the field.”

Perhaps with that impetus to play the sophomore in mind, Kelly and offensive line coach Jeff Quin moved Lugg around the line this spring. At first, there was a left tackle opening and a guard was needed, left or right to be determined. The variations of the line to fill those slots saw most linemen jump around a bit — with the sole exception being fifth-year center Sam Mustipher.

“[Lugg has] played right tackle, right guard, left guard, left tackle,” Quinn said two days before the Blue-Gold Game. “He told me yesterday, ‘Coach, it’s made me really lock into the playbook and I’ve had to concentrate a little bit more as opposed to being at one position.’

“He’s had to change his stance. He’s really had to think about if he’s play-side or backside, whether he’s on the left side or the right side. He says it’s really helped him learn the offense more.”

WHAT WAS PROJECTED A YEAR AGO
“It will be a shock to see Lugg on the field in 2017. Notre Dame almost never plays freshmen offensive linemen, and this year should provide even less of a need for it than usual with four starters returning and the competition between Kraemer and Eichenberg continuing for the starting right tackle position.”

2018 OUTLOOK
The compliments paid Lugg this spring give pause when projecting his fall. On one hand, he is a second-unit player trapped behind a starter (Eichenberg) long expected to emerge as a bedrock of the offensive line. On the other hand, both Kelly and Quinn went out of their way to make it clear Lugg is in the mix.

Eichenberg did not crack the rotation last year for a reason. That led, in part, to the emergence of Robert Hainsey at right tackle, the exception proving the rule of rare is the freshman who starts on the Irish offensive line. If Eichenberg struggles again this season, it could again work to the benefit of a member of the recruiting class of 2017. Lugg would get the first consideration to take some competitive snaps off Eichenberg’s hands.

Without that happening, and barring injury, it remains difficult to find a path for Lugg to playing time this season. Aside from Eichenberg, the rest of Notre Dame’s offensive line is pretty well set and with experience proving expectations for solid play.

DOWN THE ROAD
Again, this spring’s press conference remarks greatly influence this thought process. Before the beginning of spring practice, it would have been a leap to project Lugg to guard. His length alone makes him an ideal tackle prospect in the long-term.

The day before practice began, though, Kelly identified Lugg as someone who would cross-train at tackle and guard, as Quinn later discussed, implying the cross-training was not brief.

In the Harry Hiestand era, the Irish offensive line almost always consisted of the five best players — positions could be figured out later on. If Quinn continues with that strategy, Lugg could end up the left guard in 2019 when Alex Bars has run out of eligibility. Starting for a couple years there before moving to one of the tackle positions would be a career more than worthy of any expectations of Lugg.

NOTRE DAME 99-to-2:
No. 99 Jerry Tillery, defensive tackle, senior
No. 97 Micah Dew-Treadway, defensive tackle, senior
No. 95 Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, defensive tackle, sophomore
No. 94 Darnell Ewell, defensive tackle, sophomore
No. 93 (theoretically) Ja’Mion Franklin, defensive tackle, incoming freshman
No. 91 Ade Ogundeji, defensive end, junior
No. 90 (theoretically) Tommy Tremble, tight end, incoming freshman
No. 89 Brock Wright, tight end, sophomore
No. 88 Javon McKinley, receiver, junior
No. 87 Michael Young, receiver, sophomore
No. 86 Alizé Mack, tight end, senior
No. 85 George Takacs, tight end, early-enrolled freshman
No. 85 Tyler Newsome, punter and captain, fifth-year senior
No. 84 Cole Kmet, tight end, sophomore
No. 83 Chase Claypool, receiver, junior
No. 82 Nic Weishar, tight end, fifth-year senior
No. 81 Miles Boykin, receiver, senior
No. 80 Micah Jones, receiver, early-enrolled freshman
No. 79 (theoretically) Cole Mabry, offensive tackle, incoming freshman
No. 78 Tommy Kraemer, right guard, junior
No. 77 (theoretically) Jarrett Patterson, offensive tackle, incoming freshman
No. 76 Dillan Gibbons, offensive lineman, sophomore
No. 11 Freddy Canteen, receiver, outgoing transfer